FROM COLLECTIVITY TO COMMUNITY – LEARNING TO IMPLEMENT EFFICIENT LOCAL GOVERNANCE
SNSPA, Bucharest (ROMANIA)
About this paper:
Conference name: 5th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-9 March, 2011
Location: Valencia, Spain
Abstract:Community development is currently one of the most discussed topics in the former socialist / communist countries, where local public administration is still struggling with anachronistic public management tools, old mentalities and a higher degree of resistance to change, which translate in an inefficient practice and poor results.
One of the obstacles for implementing the values and practice of local communities development as it is known and applied in the countries with longer and uninterrupted democratic tradition, like the Western Europe, USA, Canada or Australia, might be the way both public officials and citizens understand their roles and responsibilities, as well as the accountability importance and mechanisms within the society.
Since the vast majority of the most successful innovations in democratic governance, as explored by that the literature and practice of the field, have occurred at local level, this article aims to defining and discussing a possible obstacle for building fully functional and sound local communities of citizens in the former socialist / communist countries - the values, mentalities and practices which reside in and are specific to the “community vs. collectivity” dichotomy.
As a fundament for this approach, the paper is making use of the main theories of individualism vs. collectivism, on which further arguments are built on. Here are some of the main reasons that supported this extrapolated approach:
(i) functional democracies are based on the empowerment of local communities to self-governance;
(ii) for ensuring sound and efficient community self-governance, some of the most important tools used are the mechanisms of accountability and responsibility for both public officials and citizens;
(iii) in terms of accountability and responsibility, the behavior standards and values vary for individualists and collectivists;
(iv) the “individualists vs. collectivists” dichotomy mirrors the dichotomy of “community vs. collectivity”.
This paper also reflects some of the first steps that both the citizens and the public administration in Romania have taken on the passage from collectivity towards community, in a shared effort to escape ineffective bureaucracy practice and advance towards a more able and efficient local governance.
Keywords: Local governance, efficient governance, community, collectivity.